In 2014, Competitor Group launched it’s inaugural Rock n Roll Chicago 5K as part of its Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon Weekend. I’ll write a separate post about the half marathon in the next day or so, but as far as 5K goes, the expo, parking, course, organization, and overall experience were about the same as they were last year so I really don’t have a lot of new information to say about those things that I haven’t already mentioned….
There are a few key things that I would like to point out about this year’s race though:
- It was brutally hot outside. All summer long, the temperatures in Chicago have been on the mild side, and going for a run on most days was a pretty pleasant experience. But of course the weekend of Rock n Roll Chicago happened to be when mother nature decided to crank the ol’ heat index up to 105° F. The race started at 7:30 am and the temperature was already almost 80° F. This isn’t the race directors fault, and anyone who lives in Chicago will tell you that the weather here is always unpredictable. So I’m only mentioning it as a reminder that if you’re planning to do a race here, you should be prepared for the possibility of having to deal with extreme weather conditions on race day, no matter what time of year the race is held.
- Meb Keflezighi ran the race this year and hung out afterwards taking pictures and signing autographs for runners. Last year it was Shalane Flanagan. I’d like to give props to Competitor Group for inviting world class runners like this to their events. I’ve mentioned before that the formula for creating a truly innovative business is to take two seemingly unrelated ideas and combine them together. Competitor Group has managed to become one of the most popular racing series in the world by doing exactly this: combining the experience of running marathons with the experience of going to rock concerts. Giving participants the opportunity to meet runners like Meb is the equivalent of record label sponsored fan clubs giving their members meet & greet opportunities with rock stars.
Probably the most important thing that I can say about this year’s race (to me anyway) has nothing to do with the course or the race organization though. It’s that this was my 10 year old daughter Sara’s first 5K. Earlier this year she told me that she wanted to try running a 5K and we spent about 8 weeks training for this one together. We picked a Rock n Roll Series race specifically because these races have a lot of little perks that aren’t always common at other races. One of those perks is that all 5K participants get finisher’s medals that are nice enough to rival some of the marathon and half marathon medals I’ve gotten in other races. I wanted Sara to be excited about doing her first race and it’s tough to beat the experience of running along the Chicago lakefront with beautiful views of the skyline, Buckingham Fountain, the Museum Campus, Grant Park, and Monroe Harbor while listening to live rock bands playing alongside the course and then getting a really cool medal when you cross the finish line. We hadn’t even left the finisher’s corral yet and Sara already told me that she wanted to do the race again next year.
In fact, Sara actually helped me write this post. The things she told me about what she thought of the race are included in what I typed above. And at this point, I’m going to stop writing here and let Sara finish this review in her own words:
This was my first 5k and it was good. I ran it with my dad. It was really really hot, but it was by the lake so it was awesome. We saw a lot of people walking it. I finished in 28 minutes, 29 seconds and we got the medal engraved. It’s really cool looking.